Could a Shaft drive be possibly better than a Chain?

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Russ Reynolds, Apr 12, 2007.

  1. Russ Reynolds

    Russ Reynolds New Member

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    I have just been looking at shaft drive bikes on the net. Even though they were first built in 1891, I've still never seen one. Anyway, below is the manufacturers sales pitch on the 10 top reasons why they are superior to chains.

    1. Smarter Gearing
    2. Less Maintenance
    3. Safer
    4. More Durable
    5. Cleaner
    6. Always in the Right Gear
    7. Faster Gear Transitions
    8. Easier to Transport
    9. Looks Great
    10. Quieter and More Consistent

    Unfortunately they may have a good point on most of these. No. 9 is an opinion so it doesn't count. It may be all Shimano stuff but for some reason I still hate the idea, however I can't think of 11 reasons why chains are better. I may need some help but here goes.

    1. Chain system would have to be lighter
    2. Chain system would also probably be cheaper.
    3. I love the sound of a chain ( that's not an opinion it's the truth )
    4. A chain has character. ( don't really know what that means )
    5. Help.................
     
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  2. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    The biggest reason why shaft drive bicycles suck: the mechanical efficiency of chain drive blows them out of the water......by miles.

    "Always in the right gear" presumes that someone has pre-determined what cadence is best for you. Sorry. It's impossible for that to be the case across all cyclists.

    Safer? How?

    "Smarter gearing?" Again, depends on the cyclist.

    "Faster gear transitions?" Based on what?

    "More consistent?" What the hell does that mean?
     
  3. vadiver

    vadiver New Member

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    I am not a motor cycle rider (alienator is probably better to answer this) but I was told by one at one time.

    The chain is more efficient than a shaft drive on a motor cycle do to the moving parts.

    It makes sense to me but I am always open to a different thought. The chain connects the engine to the drive wheel almost directly. Where a shaft has a gear at the engine to turn the shaft, then a gear at the drive wheel to drive the wheel. Each of these take energy.

    What he told me was the only good reason to go to a shaft is it is quieter.

    The chain is a pretty efficient means.

    I think many of stated advantages are not a given with a shaft.

    You left out the chain ring tatoo (advantace or disadvantage?)
     
  4. garage sale GT

    garage sale GT New Member

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    If you've got the money, give it a shot and tell us what you think! You'd surely be able to recoup at least part of your investment by selling the bike used if it doesn't work out.

    It is true that bevel gears are less efficient than chain drive but is it a big enough part of the total picture to ruin everything? For example, planetary transmissions or wide tires are not nearly as efficient as a Dura-Ace equipped roadie, but bikes equipped with such things see lots of use every year and are fine. Not race winners but useful bikes nonetheless.

    My only quibble with those things is that upon scouring the fine print of one of the sites I found it said the shaft was rated for a full 1,000 inch pounds, which a big guy can generate just by standing on the pedal. I think they took that strength figure out since, but have not revised the rating to reflect whatever the true limits of the machine are. So...how much faith do you have in the CPSC (or whatever agency regulates bike safety in Australia)?
     
  5. Kelderek

    Kelderek New Member

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    Shaft drives have two major disadvantages compared to chain drives:

    - Heavier
    - Less efficient (= more energy loss)

    For a road bike, that strikes me as the two most important areas...

    The pros of shaft drive listed in the sales pitch sounds like... well... sales pitch! Nothing more.

    OK, for a bike where weight and efficiency is not of any importance, shaft drive might be an alternative, but for a serious road bike... no.

    I don't ride motorcycles, but I hear from those who do that a shaft drive "raises" the bike during acceleration in a way that a chain drive doesn't. The shaft is kind of "climbing" on the drive wheel. On a road bike, this might not be possible to feel, but if you suddenly put a lot of force on the pedals, it would mean quite some loss of energy. I can't really see Robbie McEwan accepting that when trying to sprint for a stage win in the Tour :eek:
     
  6. garage sale GT

    garage sale GT New Member

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    I think most of those so-called "shaft drive advantages" derive from the use of an internal gear hub.
     
  7. doctorSpoc

    doctorSpoc New Member

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    Think these were abandon in the early 1900s... remember seeing some pictures of them when reading about Major Taylor (the second black world champion, owner over multiple world records on the track and one of the greatest american cyclists of all time). He had a few bikes built with where one or two of the chainstays had a shaft built into them.. but as other have stated too much friction... as messy as they are, seems chains are much more efficient.
     
  8. Farmguy

    Farmguy New Member

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    As a life long motorcyclist all I can say is for the transfer of power to the ground....use a CHAIN. Look at the Superbikes and GP racers, only chain drive. For comfort, quiet,less care, go shaft.
     
  9. Hypnospin

    Hypnospin New Member

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    i used to get sachs sedis chains for 6.99 back in the 8 speed days, now it is 50.00 a pop for 10 speed so i guess as time goes by i indeed have been getting the shaft...





     
  10. graphixgeek

    graphixgeek New Member

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    I think shaft drives are a gimmick to lure buyers who are afraid of "all those gears" and the maintenance that goes with them. As a former LBS employee, the biggest turn off to would-be riders (men and women) were the fact that bikes had "all those gears". The majority of bicycles sold are for recreational purposes that see nothing harder than a bike path at 10 mph or a ride around the neighborhood (actually I sold a few $1000 bikes used for just those purposes[​IMG]). So in a way shaft driven bikes make sense. It's a chance to get a potential life-long customer into a bike shop who will eventually move on to better things, like a chain driven bike![​IMG]
     
  11. sogood

    sogood New Member

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    It depends on application I guess. For a city commuter, a fully enclosed shaft drive seemed to be quite attractive. There's no fouled up chains and gears on a rainy and muddy days. Effectively no cleaning and lubes except at major intervals.
     
  12. Slugster438

    Slugster438 New Member

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    Shaft drive bicycles are a good idea in theory, but haven't worked well in practice.
    Two reasons for this are-
    .....gear interfaces present a lot of surface area friction, and so they need maximum lubrication to operate well. Which means they need to run in an oil bath, which tends to leak. Exposed chains don't present much surface-area friction in operation, and wear out relatively quickly but are cheap to replace. (and there have been chainguards that ran the chain in an oil bath--but they tended to leak too, if the bike was laid on its side...)
    .....gear interfaces need to be precision-ground to work well--but bicycle frames tend to flex when pedaled hard, which twists the gear interfaces out of true--and pretty soon those precision-ground gears, aren't precision ground anymore, and start to wear down rapidly. (-And related to flexing,,,, the flexing tends to cause oil leaks, too). Chains have enough play that frame flex isn't an issue in their durability.

    Most of the shaft-drive bikes I've seen used a geared hub.
    I like the idea of a bicycle using something "better than a chain", but the problem is that I don't know what that something is yet..... :rolleyes:
    ~
     
  13. Russ Reynolds

    Russ Reynolds New Member

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    I feel better. I now realise that I don't need 11 reasons why a chain is better, I only need 1, and that is efficiency. I'm sure that many of us who log onto this site are prepared to get their hands dirty every now and then, prepared to run the risk of getting the odd blood blister from getting your fingers stuck in between the chain and ring, and also prepared to get a bit of grease on the bottom of your calfs on the odd occassion, for a 10% efficiency increase ( or whatever the figure is ).

    And another thing, I'm sure I have concencis that chain has more character.
     
  14. Bro Deal

    Bro Deal New Member

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    OT: I was just thinking about this. I like to buy things like tires and chains in bunches so I can put them on a shelf and easily switch when needed. When buying chains for the season I was remembering when you could get Sedisport chains for seven or eight bucks. What the hell happened to chains to make them cost seven times as much? Same thing with chainrings. I used to switch between 39, and 42 tooth small rings and 52 or 53 big rings to suit the terrain. Now the rings cost almost as much as the crank + rings.
     
  15. sogood

    sogood New Member

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    Funny that, a 20 cents ice block back then now costs $2...
     
  16. vadiver

    vadiver New Member

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    Lance.
     
  17. garage sale GT

    garage sale GT New Member

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    Whether that is a problem depends entirely on how well the system is engineered. You could have the bevel gears housed in very rigid gearboxes and they could be driving a flexible shaft, or at least a shaft with some sort of flexible coupling like a spider coupling.

    I don't see why gear alignment would be a problem these days, although I do not know how current systems are configured.
     
  18. mikesbytes

    mikesbytes New Member

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    Steel City = Wollongong ?

    If you are just going to ride along the bike paths in Wollongong, which are pretty much flat and you speed is limited by the nature of the bike paths, then a 5 - 10 % reduction in efficiency isn"t particually important.

    If you want to keep up with sogood, then forget it.

    I have never personally seen a shaft drive bicycle, so they must be fairly rare, so I have to ask the question.... how easy is it to get the parts for it?
     
  19. vascdoc

    vascdoc New Member

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    I have been riding for over 40 years and have done about everything wrong at least once - except I am not sure how you could get "your fingers stuck in between the chain and ring." I try to pedal with my hands on the bar in an upright position. Perhaps my position is not as aerodynamic, as perhaps yours , but seems to present less risk. :eek:
     
  20. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    Yup. Getting your fingers stuck is about as relevant to the chain/shaft discussion as choosing CF because it's less likely to break your leg in a head-on collision is to the frame debate.
     
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